Mulch Math

Monday was Memorial Day here in the USA.  Since it was a Federal holiday, and I’m a full-time worker, anymore I have the day off from work.  Which sort of screws up my scheduling for the remainder of the week, but what can you do.  I could have chosen Friday as my other day off, and then worked 4 days straight until my scheduled day off next week, OR I could have Wednesday off as I normally do, and then work 6 days.  Since my wife generally schedules her doctor’s appointments on Wednesdays, I figured that was the better choice to make, since I don’t mind working a six-day stretch at a time.

Since it was a day off, we’d decided that we were in need of a trip to either of the big box home improvement stores, Home Depot, or Lowes.  There are three in the vicinity, 20 and 40 miles away, depending on which direction we wished to travel.  If we decided on east (Home Depot), my theory was it would likely be more crowded, as it’s more of a ‘built-up’ area, and there would be more people shopping.  As it turned out, it didn’t make a difference.

A few miles after leaving the house, there was a distinct binging sound from the instrument panel.  We’d just taken the exit and were heading west when I discovered I’d forgotten to gas up the car the day before.  So we were approximately 20 miles from an empty gas tank, we were tooling down the road doing 65 mph and had the AC running full tilt.  The closest gas station was behind us and there wasn’t an exit to turn around at for another 10 miles.  Call it the perfect storm.  I shut down the AC to conserve gas and crossed my fingers that we weren’t going to run out before getting to our exit.  We do have AAA, so if worse came to worse, we could call and they’d bring us 5 gallons of gas, but no one wants to be in that situation, it’s kind of embarrassing, y’know?

As it turned out, we made it to the gas station with a smidge left in the tank.  With disaster averted, we were free to travel to Lowes and do a bit of shopping.  Only when we got to the store, the parking lot was jammed.  Looks like everyone else in the area was taking advantage of the warm weather and making the pilgrimage to get plants, home improvement options and all manner of stuff, taking it home to do whatever with it.   Oh well.

Once we got parked, we made out our game plan.  Roto-tiller hardware first, then mulch and potting soil second.  I’d already checked the website for the store before going, determining that they didn’t have much in the way of small engine repair options, so that was going to have to wait for another day.  Also before leaving, we’d gone out to the backyard and did some measuring, to see how much mulch we were going to be needing this year.  My wife had used the calculator on the Lowes website, plugged in the numbers and came up with about 21 bags, with a presumption of 2 inches of mulch in the beds (originally she went with 3 inches, but that raised the amount of bags to 30, so she went with less depth).  I used a different calculator but made an error, instead of using the measurements as separate pieces of the puzzle, I added them together, creating a huge square footage box, which translated to over 100 bags of mulch.  I only discovered my error later in the day.  Fortunately we didn’t buy the 100 bags!

Going to the hardware aisle, I found an associate, gave him the bolt that I had and informed him that I needed two more just like it.  It took him about five minutes to finally come up with them, though he insisted that the bolts were ¼”, when I used a 7/16ths wrench to remove them.  After getting two nuts to go with them and paying for them, we were about to go to the garden center when my wife decided to interact with the cashier.  She asked him about the mulch and potting soil, and he suggested that we pay for them right then and there, and pick them up at the garden center to save time.  I was ok with that, for the most part, but when my wife said “Five bags“, it stopped me short.  Instead of saying something, I just let the guy ring it up, thinking she’d changed her mind and decided to get fewer bags initially, to be sure they were the right color, or whatever else was on her mind about it. As it turned out, I should have said something, because later in the car she confirmed that she’d erred, she meant TEN bags, not five.

Going to the garden center with the receipt, I was able to find the potting soil easy enough, loaded the bags on a flatbed and rolled it towards the exit.  I talked to one of the cashiers, and asked her to confirm that they were paid for, but she pretty nonchalantly waved me through without even looking at my receipt.  Makes me wonder how much they lose in thievery per month if their employees are that lax.  Or maybe there was something else going on that I was unaware of.  Getting the mulch was a little more driving, as they had a space in the parking lot where the bags were on pallets.  Giving the receipt to one of the burly fellows, they took very little time to pile them in the Edge and we were pretty much done.

By that time both of us were pretty ready to come home.  I wanted to swing by Wal-Mart to check to see if they had anything in the way of small engine repair, but as it turned out they didn’t.  Piled into the car and headed home.

I went back to the Lowes website this evening and checked out their mulch calculator, plugging in the numbers as they were originally measured, and then as a combined total and discovered my error.  What I originally thought was my wife’s error turned out to be my own.  No harm done, but as the saying (sort of) goes ‘measure twice, order once‘.

3 Replies to “Mulch Math”

  1. Believe me when I say we’ve talked about getting it delivered, but the lack of a place to put it in the interim from delivery to putting it where it needs to go, along with other issues always seems to get in the way. So every year we have the ‘how many bags is it going to take’ discussion. Every year we get probably one more bag than we eventually need, so it goes under the porch stairs that lead to the addition. There’s one there now, as I type this!

    1. I can’t even begin to number how many bags we get, two years ago the dump truck they use was practically full. We wanted a good coverage so now we just need to top it up. It sits at the top of the driveway for us, we don’t use the garage for the vehicles anyway.
      At least we don’t have lurking mulch bags under the stairs! *raspberries* Good luck with your spring chores my friend!

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